Rick Pearson, Chicago Tribune: FLOTUS Pool Report 1, Chicago fundraiser

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FLOTUS Pool Report 1, Chicago fundraiser.

Rick Pearson

Chicago Tribune


First Lady Michelle Obama spoke to more than 100 people in the fifth floor ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria Chicago, where she repeatedly urged supporters to “dig deep” in their contributions to Democrats to help make a better future for children, including those in neighborhoods fraught by gun violence in Chicago.


Returning to her hometown, FLOTUS spoke for about 20 minutes. She noted the attendance of Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and promised him her vote as she urged others to help him across “the finish line.” She also noted that Reggie Love, former longtime personal aide to the president, was in the audience.


Speaking from a Teleprompter on a makeshift stage, the First Lady said, “When folks ask me whether I still believe everything we said about hope and change back in 2008, I tell them that I believe it more strongly than ever before.”


But, she said, “While we still have plenty of work to do, we have truly made so much of that change we’ve been talking about. But remember, Barack didn’t do all that just sitting alone in the Oval Office. Remember that recovery act that helped rescue our economy. Remember the legislation that helped save the auto industry, the Affordable Care Act that gave folks insurance. Those bills were all passed by a Democratic Congress back in 2008, 2009 and 2010.”


At that point, an infant—among several children in the audience—began wailing. “I know, she’s stood in a photo line. So sick of her mom and dad right now. I understand,” Mrs. Obama said.


“If we want to make that change we all believe in, we need a president who will fight for that change and we need a Congress to pass it and leaders in our states who will support it. So make no mistake about it, Barack’s last campaign was not in 2012. Barack’s last campaign is this year, 2014, because the election in 2012 wasn’t the change that we sought. It was only a chance to make that change. And frankly, if we lose these mid-term elections, it’s going to be a whole lot harder to finish what we started. It will be more of the same in Washington. More obstruction. More lawsuits and talk about impeachment. More votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act or even shut down the government,” she said.


As an example of Republican obstruction, Mrs. Obama said: “In fact, it’s gotten so bad, they’re even trying to block the work that I do on childhood obesity and that’s really saying something. I mean, for most folks in this country, making sure our kids get decent nutrition shouldn’t be that controversial.”


She used that to segue into how voting and funding Democratic candidates would help children.


“As parents, there is nothing we wouldn’t do for our children. Nothing. We always put our kids’ interests first,” she said.


“We deserve leaders across this country who are going to do the same. We deserve leaders who believe like we do that no matter how our kids start in life, if they’re willing to work for it, they should have every opportunity to fulfill their boundless promise, they should have every opportunity to get a good education, build a decent life for themselves and an even better life for their own kids. That’s the American dream we all believe in and that’s what these midterm elections are all about,” she said.


“So yeah, there’s too much money in politics. There’s special interests that have too much influence. But they had all that money and all that influence back in 2008 and 2012 and we still won those elections,” she said, adding that supportive voters have to “be even more passionate and more hungry because these mid-term elections will be even more closer than the presidential elections.”

At that point, Mrs. Obama said the best way to help is to write big checks.


“We need to be engaged right from the beginning and that’s where all of you come in. Because there is something you can do right now today to make a difference and that is to write a big fat check. I kid you not. I’m going to be honest with you. That’s what we need you to do right now. We need you to write the biggest fattest check that you can possibly write,” she said.


“Writing those checks is the single most impactful thing you can do right now,” she said. “When you dig deep, when you max out, that translates into staff hired and offices opened and ads running where they need to run.”


She said electing Democrats would help move issues such as immigration reform, an increase in the minimum wage, infrastructure improvement and help protect women’s reproductive rights.


“I want to be really clear with my friends, if you think 40 or 50 hours a week shouldn’t have to live in poverty in the wealthiest nation on earth. If you believe in science and you care about the planet that you’re leaving for your kids and grandkids, if you don’t want women’s bosses making decisions about their birth control…then you need to step up. You need to dig deep and you need to get everyone you know out to vote this November,” she said.


Without mentioning any specific instances or victims, Mrs. Obama talked about the toll gun violence had taken on children in Chicago.


“There are kids like the kids here in Chicago who are confronting outrageous levels of violence, kid. Kids who are losing their lives day after day. Shootings that devastate our communities and break our hearts and rob this country of so much talent and promise. Those kids deserve so much better than this,” she said.


Citing her travels across the country, Mrs. Obama said children should be the country’s motivation.


“Kids who wake up early, take a long route to school to avoid the gangs. Kids who juggle after school jobs to support their families and stay up late to get their homework done. Kids whose parents don’t speak a word of English but who are fighting every day for a better life. These kids have every reason to give up but they are so hungry to succeed, they are so desperate to lift themselves up despite us. And that’s why we’re here today. Because those kids never give up and neither can we,” she said.


Tickets for the event started at $500 per person and scaled upward to special donations of $10,000 and $20,000 per couple. A DNC official, speaking on background, said approximately 150 people attended.


This is the sole pooled event in Chicago. No details on the duration or rest of her stay were provided.

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